‘Peter Kay supported me during my cancer treatment – now he is part of the family’

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“My cheeks ached from laughing after seeing Peter,” Laura says. She spends a week on a ten-day course of intensive daily radiotherapy at The Christie, a cancer hospital in Manchester. “He comes here and he’s part of the family. I forget he’s famous until we go to the pub and people recognize him. Someone once nearly choked on a chip when they saw him. Peter isn’t consciously trying to be funny around us, but he’ll get the mickey and it’s great. He helped us when we really needed it.”

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Her father Mark, 59, a film and TV storyboard artist who had worked with Kay, recalls: “He sat here just a few weeks ago and told us about his plans for comeback shows and said, ‘I don’t know. or someone remembers me.’ We told him he was a national treasure, of course they would.” They were right – the presale website for Kay’s tickets crashed last Thursday, his performances for Laura sold out last year, bringing in tens of thousands of pounds.

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While the family enjoyed a Christmas meal with the stand-up last year, Sunday’s early celebratory dinner with family was bittersweet. Mother Nicola, 52, explains: “The first Christmas after Laura’s diagnosis, she was very bad. When we knew the tumor had returned and more treatment was needed, I knew we had to celebrate Christmas early. That does not mean that we do not want to sit at the table together on Christmas Day.”

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Laura has squeezed everything out of life since her diagnosis. She graduated this summer with a 2:1 in Politics, Philosophy and Economics from the University of Manchester, completed the Great North Run and crossed out a bucket list of dozens of activities including driving a monster truck and a subway, crossing the equator, meeting stars including Michelle Obama and, most recently, staying in a suite at The Savoy hotel, London, and watching England reach the quarter-finals of the Rugby World Cup.